Unconventional Materials - a new angle

I constantly encourage my students to push the boundaries of ikebana possibly striving way beyond their capability. But I am delighted to see they all step up to the challenge producing amazing work whilst having feeling great accomplishment and joy.

Today one of my students, who is not afraid of stepping beyond the ‘usual or predictable’ in design work even tested my thoughts. With prior discussion to obtain permission Alexander did what I have not seen before and certainly not predictable. Following the lesson theme (Book 5 Lesson 7) he constructed a ‘sculptural’ form out of matchboxes and ‘paddle pop’ sticks following the elements and principles of Sogetsu. Yes, his work conformed to theme requirements in every aspect, but he wanted to take it a step further.

We discussed at length that everything has a moment in time existing in one form or another. Researching the word Sabi, (the underlying notion of life’s transitory and evanescent nature), I think is a very poignant part of ikebana. To put this discussion into practice Alexander set the work on fire, watching with interest the ephemeral process- almost as if on a time lapse. The end result showed the natural form of the ash (line, colour and mass) displaying the elements of Sogetsu without being touched.

To describe what I saw was a ‘fast tracked’ version of life, the birth or development of a form (a pile of match boxes), the form (the construction), the decline (fire) and then the final process (ash). Is the journey complete? Maybe not the ash then takes on its own form/life. for the next journey.

Very thought provoking



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